During my first trip to Paris, I was overwhelmed with its literary past. A past that includes welcoming expats — Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Henry Miller, and members of the Lost Generation gang. Even more, Paris is a book lover’s paradise, with bookstores that have a history as rich as the books they sell. I marveled in Paris’ literary past and present at W.H. Smith, Paris’ oldest book store, and perused the shelves at Galignani, reportedly the oldest English bookstore in Europe. I learned the history of Brentanos, whose bookstore became a converted German camera shop during World War II, and haggled with the Bouquinistes booksellers (its rude not to), one of Paris’ oldest institutions. And, for the true literary lover, hung out at Shakespeare & Company (inspired by the Sylvia Beach’s original – where Hemingway roamed and Joyce’s Ulysses was published). Owned and operated by George Whitman, the legendary bookstore entertained the likes of Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Alan Ginsberg.
These bookstores no doubt sell books that were either influenced or written in Paris. Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is set in Paris cafes and bars, inspiration drawn from his experiences. His descriptions enhanced my desires to visit Paris. I could smell the coffee and hear the traffic.
But, what if a book could escort you throughout a destination? Salon’s Literary Guide to the World could be described as a travel guide. But don’t look for restaurants, attractions, and hotels here. Their guide promises to do what Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises did for me — walk you through a destination using published books (not to be confused with guidebooks) as your guide.
Salon Book Editor, Hillary Frey describes the inspiration behind Salon’s Literary Guide to the World:
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A few years ago, I went to Delhi to visit a friend. Once I had settled in my friend’s white-tiled apartment in the quaint Nizamuddin district, I wanted to take in something that seemed better suited to my destination. Not a travel guide — those I had already read and dog-eared. Rather, a book that could thrill and educate me all at once, a book that would enhance my visit rather than distract me from it.
Of all the destinations they’ve published, my personal favorite is on the Jersey Shore. Author Suzy Hansen does a great job mentioning books that kill the Jersey stereotypes. But, these writers are more than qualified and include: Irish novelist John Banville on his homeland; New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Fulle, Togo resident Matt Steinglass, Garrison Keillor, and author Rebecca Wells.
Over the summer, Salon’s Literary Guide will present two destinations a week and one a week in the fall. A few published destinations include Montreal, China, Havana, Washington D.C, and Berlin, with Japan, Korea, and Afghanistan coming soon.
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